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Cancer Res. 1990 Nov 15;50(22):7364-70.

Resistance of human ovarian cancer cells to tumor necrosis factor and lymphokine-activated killer cells: correlation with expression of HER2/neu oncogenes.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, V.A. Wadsworth-UCLA Medical Center 90073.


Since overexpression of HER2/neu oncogenes in breast cancer cells is associated with resistance to the cytotoxic effect of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), we investigated whether this correlation also existed for ovarian cancer targets. Nine continuously cultured human ovarian cancer lines were studied and compared to 3 breast cancer lines. Three of the ovarian and 1 breast cancer line demonstrated amplified HER2/neu genes by Southern analysis, increased HER2/neu RNA by Northern analysis, and marked immunoperoxidase staining for HER2/neu protein. The other 8 lines contained unamplified genes and undetectable RNA and protein. All 4 overexpressed lines were relatively resistant to the cytotoxic effects of TNF. Interestingly, they were also resistant to lymphokine-activated killer cells. In contrast, 7 of 8 nonexpressed lines showed sensitivity to TNF and all 8 were sensitive to lymphokine-activated killer cells. There was no difference in sensitivity to lysis by hydrogen peroxide or peptide defensins between over- and nonexpressed lines. These data indicate that expression of HER2/neu oncogenes may impart a proliferative advantage in tumor cells due to induction of resistance to several different cytotoxic mechanisms.

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